If you are reading my blog concerning the Xim material and have not read the material yourself, please stop reading this right now, and read all of the Xim material, for if you have not read any of it, you are missing out on some of the most original writing to be found in all of Star Wars literature.
My first suggestion for getting your hands on the material is to pony-up the money and buy a Hyperspace membership. Don’t be cheap, it’s only 15 bucks. Hyperspace has awesome Star Wars stories. It’s a membership that is well worth it. If a membership to Hyperspace is honestly not a financial reality for you, send me an e-mail and I’ll see how I can help engage with the Despotica. You can leave your e-mail here, or you can send me a PM on the SWTOR forums. My handle there is Iscariot.
Michael Kogge, the author of the Xim material, in the words of Abel Pena, is one of the most innovative writers of Star Wars today, and fans of Star Wars literature should take notice of his work. I’ve gone in length about the Xim material before, and covered the predecessors of Evocar in my earlier posts on March of 2010.
Now, to the text itself, Xim: The Despotica (Part IV: Evocar)…
What I found of most interest in this text was the introduction to the play, the mention of a (presumed) bounty hunter, the invocations of divinity, the Oedipal nature of the Xim material, the prevalence of intertexuality in Star Wars literature(again!), and the story’s ending.
The historical preamble leading up to Evocar, written by our old friend professor Skynx, is worth the price of admission alone. Detailing the history of this audiophonic production, and how this play singlehandedly began a revolt in Hutt space, Skynx gives his readers a solid contextual understanding for appreciating the effect this work had on the history of the Hutts. What struck me most in this introduction was Skynx’s remarks that: “Nikto warriors chiselled dialogue from Evocar on their tuskbeast pikes. Klatooinian desert seers committed the entire series to memory so as to recite them at festivals of the Fountain. A troupe of Evocii refugees from Nar Shaddaa even performed a couple episodes on public hyperspace radio as a desperate plea for Republic aid, before being silenced by hired guns”. Like religious adherents memorizing their sacred text lest the words be forgotten or mis-written, Nikto, Klatooinian, and Evocii beings did everything in their power to preserve what they deemed the sacred truth of this audioplay. To these aliens, Direus’pei will always be remembered as “The Good Hutt”.
After the introduction by Skynx, we get to the meat of the play and the story itself. Evocar picks up where Xim at Vontor left off. Defeated, betrayed, and “blinded” at Vontor, Xim is now held in a Hutt dungeon on Evocar where Kossak the Mighty (a Hutt) rules supreme. Xim is eventually brought to the Hutt for trial. Xim’s crimes, in the eyes of the Hutts, are for tyranny and the destruction of species and planets. He is sentenced to death by the Hutt, and in the middle of his execution, is saved by the Evocii, who believe Xim to be the savior of their prophecies. Kossak the Hutt’s palace is brought to ruin, while Xim escapes to fight another day.
Without getting into too much detail over the story, there were lines here and there I want to highlight which caught my attention.
Shool, the prosecutor of Xim, says to the pirate prince before he was brought before Kossak: “To think we scoured the stars, even hired Lirdarc himself to hunt you down, and there you were, Xim the Deposed, lurking right under our feet, breaking stones. “ Unbeknownst to the Hutts, Xim was labouring in their dungeons as a common prisoner. It was only until Xim’s faithful servant Oziaf realized where his master was and brought him to the attention of the Hutt did Xim finally get released from the catacombs. But what caught my attention in this line was the name Lirdarc. When we read this, we are supposed to know who Lirdarc is – but we don’t. Oddly, this is what I enjoy about Kogge’s writing. His presumed audience is not us, Star Wars fans reading his work circa 2009, but his presumed audience is people listening too or watching the holoplay in the Star Wars universe circa 670 BBY. Kogge name drops people and places and events he assumes his presumed audience knows, and makes historical references his presumed audience will understand, but leaves us who are actually reading the work scratching our heads. I can only guess that Lirdarc is the Cad Bane or Boba Fett of his time, and oddly enough, I hope some Star Wars writer down the line picks up on this obscure reference and flushes out the history of Lirdarc, whoever he, she, or it, may be. I think this is a novel approach to Star Wars writing, creating a work for an intended audience which doesn’t exist. Brilliant if you ask me.
To continue with lines which stood out to me in Evocar, I was highly intrigued by the oath Indrexu had to take before giving evidence at Xim’s trial. Being sworn in by Shool, the prosecutor asked: “Your Majesty, do you swear that the testimony you are about to give is the truth and nothing but, by the Original Light so help you?” This line just about made me gasp. Is this a reference to God? The God? The Original Light? Do the Hutt’s believe in such a thing? Do the Hutt’s have religion? I always find references to gods or divinity interesting in Star Wars, because on some level the idea challenges the supremacy of the Force – the Force being the de facto God of the Star Wars universe. I remember a divine power other than the Force being referenced to or evoked before somewhere in one of the other mediums I’ve already addressed, but I can’t seem to remember where I read it. As it is, I wonder what can or will be told about the Original Light.
Moving on, the Oedipal natures of these works keep coming to the foreground of the Despotica. First with Xim’s self-blinding in Xim at Vontor, and again in epic form in Evocar. While giving evidence and verbally sparring with the prisoner, Indrexu, Xim’s former consort, mistress, and Queen says in bombastic Star Wars fashion: “Xim, I am your mother”. Memories of Darth Vader at Bespin aside, I was almost bowled over by this statement. The emotions I felt while reading this were similar to the emotions invoked in me the first time I read Oedipus Rex. I was disgusted, I was revolted, I was surprised – but not Xim. His response: “So?” A twisted reply, revealing the truth that Xim may have knew the entire time, but had no problems with his incest. Kogge should be winning awards for his work here.
Coupled with the Oedipal nature of Evocar, is the literary device of intertextuality. Kogge owes some thanks to Brian Daley, author of the Han Solo Adventures, and the originator of the story of Xim the Despot. I remember reading this trilogy back in the early 90’s after I had finished the Thrawn trilogy. I enjoyed Daley’s work more than Zahn’s in this case. One of my favorite aspects of Star Wars literature is the way texts shape other texts. We’ve encountered it time and again on our journey through the history of Star Wars, and this will not be the last time we see how one Star Wars text forms another. Indeed, the entirety of Star Wars canon is built upon this idea, and is shaped by the nature of intertextuality.
Finally, the ending of Evocar was absolutely brilliant. Our own professor Skynx, nothing but a bug in its larval stage, is knowingly leaving behind his love of Xim scholarship – his fanciful childhood – to cocoon himself for his transformation into a winged creature with Chroma-wings, looking to discover a new love in his adult stage of life. This picture filled me with a deep melancholy. At the end of his post-script he asks his readers to continue with his work, to “take his torch and dare the dark of Xim”. What a sad sad happy ending.
Every lover of Star Wars literature needs to read Kogge’s work. You don't know what you’re missing.
For my next post I’m going to go over some brief references in JvS that deal with Star Wars history after 671 BBY, and before I get to the years 300-100 BBY. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.